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What physical signs on the teeth may indicate teeth grinding (bruxism)?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Teeth grinding may cause wear and tear on your teeth. During a dental visit, the dentist may notice that the tips of your teeth are flattened, that the enamel is worn down, and that there is unusual wear on your teeth. This physical evidence may help the dentist diagnose your condition.

If your teeth are worn, loose or cracked, you may be doing damage to them from tooth grinding (bruxism).

If you suspect you are grinding your teeth, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist can diagnose bruxism by looking for unusual wear spots on your teeth and assessing related symptoms. He or she can also help you manage your bruxism and its related symptoms, as well as repair and help prevent further damage to your teeth.

Teeth show signs of tooth grinding when there is more wear to the teeth than there should be for a comparable chronological age. The teeth may appear flattened lacking what the dentist would call a cusp (point) fossa (valley) relationship.

The physical signs that may indicate teeth grinding, or bruxism, include:

  • worn tooth enamel
  • unusual wear and tear on your teeth
  • flattened tips of your teeth
  • chipped or fractured teeth
  • the inside of your cheeks may be rough or chewed
  • grooves or indentions on your tongue
  • sore or painful jaws
  • headaches

Tooth grinding often occurs unconsciously during the day or when you sleep at night. Mouth guards can help protect your teeth while you're asleep.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.